AUGUSTA — Erika Hannigan remembers the final seconds ticking away in the Class C field hockey state championship game last season, her Oak Hill Raiders about to drop a difficult 2-0 decision to Maine Central Institute.

“Heart-breaking,” the Oak Hill senior captain said. “We tried so hard but we couldn’t get it to click. It was tough.”

The Huskies and Raiders will renew acquaintances Saturday in the Class C state championship game at McMann Field in Bath. It’s a rematch of the state title game last season, which MCI won 2-0 for its first state title in program history.

“I think it’s very exciting playing them again, just because we’ve started a good competition with them,” MCI junior captain midfielder and Alison Hughes said. “Our football teams played (in Class D state game last year) and now this year playing them again, it’s pretty cool.”

Added Oak Hill senior captain Lindsey Wright: “We’re definitely excited to play them again, considering last year. Losing to them last year … we’re a lot mentally stronger than what we were last year.”

Field hockey will crown its latest state champions Saturday, beginning with the Class C game at 11 a.m. York (17-0) and Belfast (16-1) will play for the Class B title at 1 p.m. while perennial power Skowhegan (13-3-1) will square off with Massabesic (13-3-1) in the Class A game at 3 p.m.

The Indians are trying to win their second consecutive Class A state title and 14th in the last 16 seasons.

MCI followed up its impressive 2015 season with an equally dominant one. The Huskies held foes to two or fewer goals in all but one of their games.

And, Hughes said, they did it competing as the always-dangerous hunted this fall.

“There is a huge difference from last year,” she said. “Last year, there was absolutely zero pressure on us because we weren’t expected to do anything. This year we had targets on our backs as the defending state champs. You have that pressure, but we’ve handled it well. But there is a very different feeling going into this game.”

Added Alison’s mother, MCI coach Nancy Hughes: “We’re excited. Our kids are all business. They are definitely hungry and very focused. Yes, it’s a state championship game, but for us it’s another game where we’ll try to take care of business.”

Oak Hill coach Betsy Gilbert acknowledged her team was a bit nervous heading into the state game last season, but expects a more focused group in Bath.

“My kids are ready for it,” she said. “They have worked hard to get to this point. They are just really excited. They are a lot calmer than what they were last year at this point. There is a lot of hype and they know it’s going to be load. They are a very relaxed team. I don’t see a lot of nervousness that I saw last year.”

Hannigan agreed, saying the Raiders have plenty of motivation this time around.

“We know what they are all about,” she said. “We are more prepared this time. Last year, it sticks with you. We don’t want to feel like how we felt last year.”

Bill Stewart — 621-5618

[email protected]

Twitter: @billstewartMTM


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